November 1, 2020 through January 24, 2021

Scheller Gallery

New Century, New Woman explores American women’s new personal and political freedoms at the turn of the twentieth century through the lens of fashion. Between 1890 and 1920, many women challenged the expectation that their role should be limited to home and family. This “New Woman” pursued employment and college education in increasing numbers, and campaigned for suffrage and social reform.


“Modern women do not spend their days settled in the comfort of an armchair.”
Jovita Idar (teacher, journalist, feminist, nurse), 1911


Fashionable clothing in this era ranged from elaborate, feminine dresses to smart separates inspired by menswear. As women challenged norms of feminine behavior, many chose to dress stylishly in order to subvert stereotypes and advance their agendas.

Honoring the one-hundredth anniversary of women’s suffrage in 2020, this exhibition offers a historical perspective on issues such as gender roles, fashion, and professional self-presentation that continue to resonate today.

Featured art: (1) Detail: American, Dress, ca. 1908-15, silk, velvet and lace. Gift of Doe Levan, 2017. (2017.13), (2) American, Shirtwaist blouse, 1905-11, cotton, insertion lace, embroidery. Transferred from American Textile History Museum, Gift of Marion Hall, 2017. (2017.6.140), (3) Detail: American, Dress, 1909, linen with lace insets, embroidery, crochet lace tape insets. Transferred from American Textile History Museum, Gift of Joan Cummer, 2017. (2017.6.83), (4) American, Hat, ca. 1905-10, felt, velvet, ostrich feather. Collection of Ellie Laubner, 2009. (2009.12.157)

New Century, New Woman is supported through the generosity of Mrs. Eleanor P. Laubner.